Parks and Recreation Commission rejects proposal to lease Dan Nicholas Park to firm for staging holiday lights display
By Jessie Burchette
The Rowan County Parks and Recreation Commission rejected a plan to transform part of Dan Nicholas Park into a Christmas wonderland lights display.
Mike Miller, president of the Salisbury marketing firm, Miller Davis, met with the parks commission Tuesday evening to lay out plans for the holiday lights extravaganza similar to that staged at Tanglewood Park.
Under the proposal, Miller Davis would rent the park from Thanksgiving to Jan. 2, giving the county a percentage of the gate receipts. Miller offered a guarantee of $25,000 minimum.
Miller outlined plans to stage the light show in the campground area. The company would have taken control of the park from 6 to 10 p.m. each evening.
Board members raised questions about safety and potential wear and tear on the park road system.
The major concern, however, was leasing the park to a for-profit business.
The county has traditionally allowed nonprofits to hold events in the county parks system.
Don Bringle, parks director, said the commission was concerned about the potential of setting a precedent by opening the parks to for-profit businesses.
The county has leased the fairgrounds to for-profit businesses but not county parks.
Bringle noted Miller also wanted a decision in a relatively short time frame ó by late June or early July.
The commission voted unanimously against recommending the lease arrangement.
Bringle said Miller contacted him in mid-May and met with him to hear the proposal. At that point, Bringle invited Miller to attend the parks meeting.
Miller, of China Grove, ran unsuccessfully in the May 6 primary as a Republican candidate for the Board of Commissioners.
Bringle said later in the week that one commission member has changed his mind and may seek a special meeting to reconsider the proposal.
Bringle declined to name the member.
The final decision would belong to the Board of Commissioners.